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Common Misconceptions

There’s a lot of misinformation out there about the fire sprinkler system that keeps people from installing them- sometimes with tragic results. Here are a few of the more common ones.

If a sprinkler senses heat, the whole fire sprinkler system will go off-causing expensive water damage. NOT TRUE. Most fire sprinkler systems on the market today are designed so that each sprinkler head activates individually. The only sprinkler that goes off in case of a fire is the one directly above the fire-keeping fire and water damage to a minimum,

A fire sprinkler system can get tripped accidentally causing expensive water damage. ACTUALLY, IT’S PRACTICALLY IMPOSSIBLE TO “accidently” set off a fire sprinkler system. The sprinkler system is activated by concentrated heat alone- the kind of heat you get from a fire, not a sweltering day in July. This makes it very difficult to trip the system inadvertently. And it’s been estimated that only one in sixteen million fire sprinkler systems have manufacturing defects –so it’s very doubtful that your system will malfunction in this way.

A fire sprinkler system is prohibitively expensive to install. NOT TRUE. Installing a sprinkler system in your home will cost about as much as installing new carpeting. More expensive than a few smoke alarms, true- but much more effective protection.

A fire sprinkler system needs Hugh amounts of water to work effectively. THIS IS NOT THE CASE. A sprinkler system typically uses a fraction of the water fire fighters use to put a fire out. A single sprinkler can take out most home fires by itself. By the time the fire department arrives at a burning home, the fire has usually grown to much larger proportions- and so thousands of gallons of water are needed to control it. If it can be controlled at all.

Fire alarms and a good escape plan are all you need to survive a fire. It’s a COMMON MYTH that a fire alarm alone can protect your family from fire. Actually, a fire alarm is not as reliable as a fire sprinkler system. 14% of fire alarms may fail to sense a fire at the critical moment. Compare that to the fire sprinkler system records: it’s estimated that only one in 500,000 will fail to go off in case of a fire.

Those sprinkler heads will look unsightly on my ceiling. NOT TRUE. Today’s residential fire sprinkler system designs blend in. Recessed and semi-recessed sprinkler heads are widely available, as well as special caps that cover the recess and are attached with a special resin that will melt and drop off the sprinkler in case of a fire. Sprinkler heads and covers come in a wide variety of colors to match your ceiling, and most manufacturers will custom paint them on request.

Concealed Pendent Sprinkler

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Why a Sprinkler System

Chances are, you don’t live in an area like Scottsdale, which mandates the installation of fire sprinklers in the home.  This means it’s up to you to decide to install fire sprinklers.  Here are just a few compelling reasons why fire sprinklers make sense in any home

  • It can only take a fire two minutes to go from a smolder or spark to an out of control conflagration.
  • It takes considerable longer than two minutes for most people to fully awaken and get out of a burning house when a fire alarm goes off.
  • Fire sprinklers don’t just alert you to a fire they will most likely put the fire out.  This can be the crucial difference between lives saved and lives lost in a fire.
  • Fire sprinklers don’t go off by accident.  It takes fire intensity heat to set a sprinkler head off, nothing else will do it.  It’s estimated that only one in 500,000 fire sprinklers malfunctions each year.
  • Sprinklers cost about as much to install as carpets.
  • Fire sprinklers are effective because they cut the fire off before it has a chance to grow.
  • Losses in buildings with fire sprinklers installed average less than one tenth of those buildings without fire sprinklers.
  • Fire sprinklers control over 99% of all fires that start in the home.  In a home without Sprinklers,  there’s a one in five chance your home will catch fire.
  • Sprinklers use only a relatively small amount of water compared to that of a fire department.

Fire Sprinklers In Action

Fire Sprinklers are effective against every type of fire-as the citizens of Scottsdale found out.  Below are just a few examples of fire sprinklers saving the day?

  • A homeowner put smoldering fireplace coals inside a flammable container inside the garage before leaving home.  The container ignited and was contained almost immediately by the fire sprinklers installed in the home.  That was a great deal of flammable material in the garage, and other homes sclose by would have been in danger of catching fire if the blaze had been allowed to spread.  As it was, the garage suffered almost no damage and fire was controlled immediately.
  • A malfunctioning electric fan started a fire in a ground floor apartment building.  A single sprinkler head controlled the fire within minutes of its start.
  • A fire started within the walls of a home under construction.  It burned within the unprotected space between walls and ceilings for some time before breaking into the living space… The fire was especially dangerous because it was undetected for some time, even with electricians and construction crew working on the premises.  In addition, fire sprinklers are not positioned to protect against fires in the narrow space between walls and ceilings.  However, the fire eventually broke into the living space of the home, which was protected by fire sprinklers.  The fire sprinklers helped control the fire, making it possible for workers at the site to extinguish it completely.
  • An arsonist broke into a home and poured gasoline all over the bedroom of one of the occupants and on the sleeping occupant himself – before setting the room on fire.  The fire sprinklers activated immediately, and the occupant experienced only minor burns despite being covered with gasoline.  The fire sprinklers were directly responsible for saving this man’s life.
  • In the early morning, EMT personnel responded to a minor medical incident at a Scottsdale resort.  While parked in the basement parking lot of the resort, a fuel leak caused the ambulance engine to explode, starting a potentially serious fire made worse by the oxygen tanks carried in the ambulance.  Luckily, the resort had had fire sprinklers installed.  Five fire sprinklers were activated and controlled the fire in 20 minutes.
  • An arsonist used a large amount of flammable liquid to start a fire in a single family home.  Witnesses called the fire department and reported that a huge uncontrolled blaze was engulfing the house.  However, when the fire department arrived, they found a lot of smoke but hardly any fire.  The fire sprinklers had activated and almost completely controlled the fire before the fire department arrived despite the large amount of flammable liquid used to start the fire, the fast spread rate, and the abundance of flammable material inside the house.  Fire sprinklers are not designed to control fires of this magnitude but in this case, the fire sprinkler system was able to contain the fire effectively.

How Does A Fire Sprinkler System Work?

Fire sprinkler systems are hooked up to water pipes in your ceiling and walls.  The network of water pipes is either filled with water at all times, or hooked up to your water main or a storage tank via a water pump or valve.

The sprinklers themselves are installed on your ceilings or sometimes high on the walls

Each sprinkler in the fire sprinkler system is fitted with a glass bulb containing gases and liquids that expand under heat, or with a fusible link with seals that melt upon contact with high heat.

When a fire starts, it sends a plume of hot air toward the ceiling.  This expands the contents of the glass bulb.  When the gases get hot enough, the glass bulb breaks.  In the case of the fusible link, the heat melts the seals on the links.  This releases a valve connected to the water pipes in the ceiling, dousing the fire with water.  The glass bulbs and link seals are designed to break at a specific temperature for your particular needs.

The droplets released by the fire sprinkler system are strictly controlled to be large enough to penetrate the core of the fire without evaporating.  They bring the temperature inside the fire down below sustainable levels.  As a result the fire goes out quickly before it has a chance to spread to different areas of the house.

(WHAT TO KNOW WHEN INSTALLING A FIRE SPRINKLER SYSTEM)

 If you’re looking into installing a fire sprinkler system keep this in mind it’s not a do-it yourself job.

A fire sprinkler system should only be installed by a certified professional. Never try to do it yourself.

Be sure the company you choose is a licensed C-16 contractor for the State of California.

Life Saving Records

INSTALL RESIDENTIAL FIRE SPRINKLERS AND DISCOVER THEIR AMAZING LIFE-SAVING RECORD 20 YEARS OF RESULTS POINT TO AN AMAZING RECORD OF SAVING LIVES WHEN FIRE SPRINKLERS ARE INSTALLED

In June 1985 the city of Scottsdale, Arizona enacted a law requiring all new homes to be
fitted with fire sprinklers during construction,

Scottsdale had already passed a similar ordinance in 1974 that applied to commercial structures.  Fire officials were impressed with the results of this ordinance-nearly 90% savings in fire damage costs in structures with fire sprinklers installed-that they began testing residential fire sprinklers to see if they would be similarly effective.

The results of the ordinance to install fire sprinklers spoke for itself.  In ten years 7% of residential fires involved homes with fire sprinklers installed.  Of those, 92% of fires were controlled by a single sprinkler head.  The other 8% involved flammable liquid spills, which took three or more sprinkler heads to extinguish-but ultimately, those fires were controlled as well.

The average damages for homes with fire sprinklers installed were $1,945. Compared to damages in homes without fire sprinklers, which came to $17,067.  Although less than half of homes were fitted with fire sprinklers-the ordinance covered new construction only-the town experienced only a quarter of the fire damage seen in neighboring towns of similar sizes in the last year of the study.

Scottsdale serves as an important example of what can happen when a strong public education campaign is paired with support from lawmakers and officials.  Millions of dollars in property damage and more than a few lives were saved as a result of their aggressive fire safety campaign.

Passive Protection

PASSIVE PROTECTION:  THE TROUBLE WITH FIRE ALARMS

Fire alarms provide a passive defense against fire: they alert you to a problem, but they don’t do anything else to contain a fire.

Approximately 14% of fire alarms malfunction during a fire. Many more fail to work because of user error, the batteries have expired, or the device has been disabled to prevent if from going off by accident.  Fire alarms are so sensitive that a little smoke from food cooking on the stove can set them off leading many people to remove the battery in frustration.
If you forget to replace the battery results could be tragic.

Most home fires happen at night, when people are sleeping.  It can take several minutes for a family to wake up, get dressed and get out of the house when a fire alarm goes off, regardless of the noise.  Those few minutes are all a fire needs to get out of control.  The moment a fire alarm goes off, residents are in a race against the fire and all too often, the fire wins.

In addition, young children are particularly vulnerable to fire.  Children under the age of five typically don’t understand that they need to get out of the house in case of a fire; no matter how often you tell them.  They’ll hide under a bed or in a closet to escape a fire, causing the parents to waste precious minutes looking for them.  They often cannot escape on their own.

The handicapped and elderly are another high-risk group.  They often cannot move quickly without assistance, and may have trouble navigating stairs and fire escapes in the event of an emergency.  Many fire-related deaths involve people with medical conditions who could not move quickly enough to get out on their own.

A fire alarm will make plenty of noise in the case of a fire, but the people in a burning house are on their own.

Success Stories

INSTALL RESIDENTIAL FIRE SPRINKLERS AND DISCOVER THEIR AMAZING LIFE-SAVING RECORD 20 YEARS OF RESULTS POINT TO AN AMAZING RECORD OF SAVING LIVES WHEN FIRE SPRINKLERS ARE INSTALLED

In June 1985 the city of Scottsdale, Arizona enacted a law requiring all new homes to be fitted with fire sprinklers during construction,

Scottsdale had already passed a similar ordinance in 1974 that applied to commercial structures.  Fire officials were impressed with the results of this ordinance-nearly 90% savings in fire damage costs in structures with fire sprinklers installed-that they began testing residential fire sprinklers to see if they would be similarly effective.

The results of the ordinance to install fire sprinklers spoke for itself.  In ten years 7% of residential fires involved homes with fire sprinklers installed.  Of those, 92% of fires were controlled by a single sprinkler head.  The other 8% involved flammable liquid spills, which took three or more sprinkler heads to extinguish-but ultimately, those fires were controlled as well.

The average damages for homes with fire sprinklers installed were $1,945. Compared to damages in homes without fire sprinklers, which came to $17,067.  Although less than half of homes were fitted with fire sprinklers-the ordinance covered new construction only-the town experienced only a quarter of the fire damage seen in neighboring towns of similar sizes in the last year of the study.

Scottsdale serves as an important example of what can happen when a strong public education campaign is paired with support from lawmakers and officials.  Millions of dollars in property damage and more than a few lives were saved as a result of their aggressive fire safety campaign.

Water Supply Tank

Not Enough Water? NO Problem, We Have Lots of Models to Choose From!

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Why Fire Sprinklers Are So Effective

Fire sprinklers will most likely extinguish the fire at its source before it has a chance to grow.

The moment a fire starts, it sends up a burst of heat that activates a sprinkler head.  Fire sprinklers are designed for individual activation, a small fire won’t set every sprinkler in the house off.  Nine times out of ten, one sprinkler head is enough to extinguish a fire.

Fire sprinklers hardly ever malfunction or go off accidentally like fire alarms do.  The reason is that sprinklers can only be activated by a burst of heat strong enough to melt the seals on the sprinkler head, causing it to spray.  The only thing remotely likely to produce that much heat in a home is a genuine fire.

The flow of water from fire sprinklers is designed to drop the core temperature of a fire past the point where heat can be maintained.  Once a fire has dropped below that threshold temperature, it can no longer sustain itself.  The fire sprinklers put out the fire by removing its heat.

Fire sprinklers also reduce the chances of death by smoke inhalation.  This is the most common cause of death in case of house fires- most people suffocate long before the fire gets to them.  Fire sprinklers spray water on the source of smoke, weighing down the larger smoke particles.  This thins the smoke, giving people in a burning home a better chance of surviving to escape.

Sprinklers are the most effective means of protecting your home against fire.  They are more effective than fire alarms, fire extinguishers, and even the fire department.  If you have anything in your home worth protecting and all of us do, you should give fire sprinklers serious consideration

Wood Ceiling Rough Installation

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